I am kind of a wimpy massage therapist. I only do three to four massages in a shift and I don't typically do a full massage of deep tissue work. I don't have a problem giving a massage where deep tissue is incorporated into troubled areas, but a full one hour massage of deep tissue is difficult. However, I have colleagues who will do six to seven massages in a shift and all of them are deep tissue. They do complain about it, but they do it. I, personally, don't know how they do it. I had a client last night who kept saying "I like it a little deeper" or "you can work a little deeper in that area." I want to say, "No, REALLY, I can't! My thumbs and fingers are about to fall off!" Sometimes I am working so hard, that my hands and joints are shakey during and after the massage - though, this, too, is a common complaint from those who do multiple deep tissue massages. Funny, it only takes me one deep tissue massage for that affect to set in. I do find ways to work deep without blowing out my thumbs by using my knuckles/fists and my elbows and my body weight. Last night though, I wanted to try jumping up and down on this woman and saying "there, is that deep enough?" Maybe it was just that this woman kept making comments like, "if I could just get all of these knots worked out" and "I wish I could just scoop out the knots with a spoon." I wanted to say "Are you kidding me? I don't feel ANY knots. Okay, one, but it shouldn't be causing all of the issues you are complaining about." Of course, that conversation lead to a lot of complaining in the employee lounge from me and a couple of other therapists who get clients who think they are falling apart and the entire massage you are thinking "Huh? I don't feel much in here but maybe a few tight areas. Certainly no KNOTS or trigger point areas! Nothing a firm massage and some stretching couldn't take care of."
The flip side of this is you get clients who say, with a lot of confidence and knowledge, "I like deep tissue work. You can't work too deep on me. The deeper the better." Then you get to work and the next thing you know they are screaming, "NOT SO DEEP" as they peel themselves off of the ceiling. Know it alls - be careful when you ask for deep tissue massage, especially if your therapist is in a mood!